Are North Americans Jobists?

As North Americans, I believe we live in a Meritocracy, where (in theory) taking advanced training and working hard is rewarded. I also believe that this has developed into a system where “Jobism” (treating people differently and being prejudicial towards them because of their job/career) is widespread. If you work in a service-type industry, you probably know what I’m talking about. You could be in University to get your double doctorate in Molecular Biology and Superstring Theory, but if you’re supporting yourself by waiting tables in the summer, that’s what people see, and that’s how they treat you. Then we have the opposite situation for occupations like doctors, engineers, professors, etc, where people treat people in these occupations better than the average shmoe based solely on their occupations.

I, personally, am a Temporary Office Worker, and I have witnessed this Jobism firsthand. I have met people on the job who assumed I was a regular employee, and treated me with respect and camaraderie, then, when they discovered I am “just a temp”, their attitude became much cooler and aloof, as though they were embarrassed to be caught treating a temp like someone much higher-up the office food chain (in their opinion). I’ve seen it in peoples’ eyes, when they have met me, been talking to me, and just kind of switched off when they found out what I do for a living. In my opinion, I am no different than anybody working at any job in any company, from the cleaners to the president. I am a human being doing a job, regardless of what my duties or job title are; I always expect my treatment to be based on me as a human being, not on what others perceive as appropriate treatment for someone at my level of employment.

So, my questions to the Teeming Millions are; do you agree with my definition of Jobism? Do you agree that it exists in the North American workplace as a type of prejudice? Do you think this is a bad or good thing, if indeed you think it does exist? What are your own experiences with Jobism?

Boy, ain’t THAT the truth! I think it’s more than just temp-versus-permanent, too. If someone were a manager in one department and I was a lowly serf in another, they’d look down on me, even if I had a few people working under me. Or how about seniority complexes? People who have been at a company for, say, 10 years usually feel superior to those who have just joined, even if the latter has a lot of experience in the industry or (worse) is a manager/director, too.

if you think it is bad in America… it is much worse in other countries. Most of the world a guy studying to be a doctor would just not wait tables as something way beneath him since one day he will be a doctor. But I do not think you can expect to be treated the same whether you are at the top or the bottom of the ladder. With respect in both cases yes, but not the same. It’s human nature and it is probably in the US where it is less noticeable.

This is what I’m talking about; I understand that not everyone will be treated the same, but it’s the lack of respect for the human being that makes it Jobism, in my opinion. (Oh, and I don’t buy the argument that it’s worse in other countries; just because things are worse somewhere else, doesn’t mean that it’s good here.)

There isn’t even a debate here. People judge others by their job all the time. Not only that, in certain jobs people judge others by what school they attended.

People also judge a student waiting tables diferently from an aspiring actor waiting tables or a full time waiter. For the student and the actor, waiting tables is a means to a greater end. But the full time waiter is often viewed as having a lower station in life, even though a good waiter in a fancy restaurant can make as much as most college grads.

There was a lot of “jobism” in my last job. We had an in-house IT staff with 10-15 years of experience. Management wouldn’t listen to any of their suggestions, prefering to listen to the hired consultants who were right out og college.

From what I have been able to glean from the net generally and the SDBM specifically, it is much worse in America.

Some of the stories I read about the way service people are treated there I find almost unbelievable.

I know when I was at university here in Australia, I (and my friends) had no major problems working crappy jobs to make ends meet. Of course, there is always the odd moron who thinks he is better than everyone, but I didn’t notice most people acting that way.

Jobism is the great American dream. Its better than the old American dream, which was to conquer land and destroy the natives.:slight_smile:

This can be so crappy. The “arrogance of academics” thread in the BBQ Pit kind of overlaps this topic a bit, I think.

I told a story on that thread about how I was treated with some snobbery by a co-worker, because she had an Art degree, and I didn’t. (Even though I was the one in the somewhat prestigious group art show, and she, as far as I know, was doing diddley with her art.)

At this same job, some other co-workers had a really crappy and condescending attitude towards me at one point. Basically, even though I was actively working on my pottery (and getting in galleries, art shows, awards, etc.) because I was working in a dead end job, I was worthy of scorn, and given the indication that I was a loser. These co-workers were young, living at home, attending the local community college, and figured that their “prospects” were far brighter than my own. (I was out of college and older than any of them.) It didn’t matter that I was a good employee, reasonably bright (I was always using words that they didn’t understand) and was doing OK with my pottery goals. (I even had my picture in the local paper, taken from one of the shows I was in.) But this meant NOTHING - I was still treated like a loser because I was making ends meet at this dead-end job, and I was older then they were.

Yeah, yeah, I’m full of little antecdotes these days. I just thought it was a fitting tale.

It reminds me of the Saturdy Night Live sketch with Will Ferrell; “I have an upper-level management position!!!
I drive a Mercury Sable!!!"

So are we talking about people with better jobs than other people but aren’t as merited? Well, i know all about that. So does my mom.

She got a job at a company. She went to Berkley University. She was supposed to be an engineer, but she was a technician. But what ticked her off was the fact that a lady above her, a much younger and stupider woman, was an Engineer. My mom pointed out and corrected every mistake she made. Luckily, though, my mom is now an engineer. She just recently invented a machine to help obese people.

And me, well, i work my ass off and get treated like shit at a food resturant for 6.75 and hour. My friends are working at a country club, doing much less than i do, and get paid like 12 dollars an hour. There is something wrong here, oh yeah, that should be my job!! Either that or i should get more money for my job.

The thing is, this country is really screwed up. Any business man is insanely greedy, and does whatever he can to make the most money. This includes screwing the people under him.

Thank god for karma.

There is nothing wrong as far as I can see. Just because the country club pays more does not entitle you to more pay the restaurant. Different jobs pay different salaries and have different qualifications to obtain them. In some cases the same job in different companies can have vastly different compensations; even within the same company the same job can start a person at different salaries. I know it happened to me before on a few occasions. I have been given the lower salary than the rest at one job, but a higher salary than the rest at another job. It is neither a fair nor unfair system, it is just the system as it is.

Whiners who constantly complain about not being paid enough are probably paid more than they’re worth, IMHO. Maybe if you have job skills that the county club needs they’ll hire you, but theyrel under no obligation to hire you because you want more money.

:rolleyes: So is the insanely greedy business man to blame for your money woes? By asking for more money for your job you seem just as insanely greedy too. The only difference that I can see is that the business man does whatever can to make the most money, but you say you should be paid more and imply it should be for doing much less.

Karma would be you, in fifteen to twenty years, as a conservative Republican business man hiring the help at for your business at low salaries and taking your family to Europe with the profits

Following up on that, there is a definite tendency, particularly among white-collar types, to self-identify and get a sense of worth from one’s job.

I remember a fascinating study I read about ten years ago on this issue. One bit that stuck in my mind was, if you ask a white-collar and blue-collar worker what they did, you got revealingly different answers:

b-c: “I work at the factory.”
w-c: “I am an accountant.”


I would like to clarify a point here; the jobism I’m describing is not about pay or duties; it is about people treating other people with less respect in their attitudes and actions based on the job that person is doing. It is about people in “inferior” positions being made to feel like they are not as worthy as human beings as their “superiors”.

Seeing it in action in my li’l peer group. Buncha folx, all one year out of college. Generally, I get the vibe that the folx who are pursuing their master’s degrees are a tier above those of us who hold jobs. Those of us who hold office jobs tend to find the teachers a wee bit comical.

Where I see it the most, however, is between the three of us who work all at the same university (albeit in different departments, jobs, etc.). In order, Person A has a contract job that has led into a permanent position; Person B has a contract job; Person C is a freelancer working with the univeristy.

As Person C, I get wore down by hearing all about the others’ “management codes” and where that puts them on the hierarchy in their offices. Last week’s pet peeve was Person A holding the permanent position over Person B’s head. It’s like we’re all so fresh and new that we need every stinkin’ little thing to show each other up.

I guess idealistic-moi didn’t expect this much competition between three friends.

Featherlou: you are completely justified in your belief in “jobism”. I’ve seen it firsthand (I’m currently going through it).
In smaller companies, this is especially the case. In the company I work for, the boss treats all us recent grads like garbage-cheap labor, just to pad her incredibly bloated ego. She’ll go out with her contempories at the most posh restaurants in town for 2 1/2 hours, drop $30 for lunch, and come back to the office to see us warming up Ramen noodles, or 40-cent burritos.

We hate her for it, but that is the order of things, isn’t it? All we ask for is a little respect, and a little more money. I suppose if I was in her position, I would do the same thing, though. It’s easy to say you wouldn’t, until you are there. She can get away with it, because she can get away with it. Look, everyone’s a hypocrite… that’s human nature. The hardest thing in the world is truly seeing things from a different (or opposing) point of view.
Featherlou, in no way am I saying it’s right or fair, but since when has the world been fair?

Like on game shows, the first question the host asks is “So what do you do?” It’s so fundamental to the worth we assign ourselves and each other for some reason. I don’t like to define my life around my job; I like to think that my job is an aspect of my life —> Period. But for others, their job does define their existence.

Just keep on keepin’ on, do what you do. As long as you can live with yourself, and continue to work toward your goals, then screw them and keep your eyes on the prize.

Regarding the temp thing, while it might not apply in your case, I can understand how, in some circumstances, there might be an attitudinal change when someone discovers, quite suddenly, that you won’t be around very long. I might have one social interaction with Peter, reasoning that Peter and I face a reasonably long future together of shared experience and common references, while I might have a very different social interaction with Paul, reasoning that Paul will be gone from my life in a week or two, so we’d better stick to things that don’t include making a friend whose exit I soon will mourn.

That is not to say that I look up to Peter and down to Paul, but merely that I look forward to Peter and can’t to Paul.

Not knowing anything about the specific situation, I obviously can’t apply it. But there is a unique situation dealing with temps. Whether or not right or wrong, much of office camraderie revolves around bitching about the company and management, And until someone proves they can be trusted, it’s an unspoken rule that you stop talking when the temp walks by. Once someone has accepted a permanant position they have commited to being in the boat with you long term, and can be trusted to know about the boss’s 4 hour lunches. Someone who only has a 2 month commitment just isn’t part of the gang. I know it sucks, I was a temp for a long time, but as a permanent employee now its not worth it to assume that the new temp won’t tell the boss what we said in an effort to suck up.

In most fields 30 years ago moving from managed to manager was one of the only ways to get more pay and respect. In a tech company the whole pecking order is really screwed up. A first year employee who happened to get the right skill might make more money, and have more influence on the big bosses than his manager who has been there 10 years. Most people I work with would rather be shot than become a manager. So the whole ‘I’m better than you cause I got this position’ thing is pretty irrelevant.

Yes indeed I see Jobism as form of bigotry…Hell I’m guilty of it myself…

I have made it a point to see how long I can go before asking someone what they do…It is amazing how much this strips away from a person and you see the real them…

When someone asks me I usualy reply like a smart ass with a line stolen from the great comedian Tim Wilson…

It goes like this…

“So B, what do you do for a living?”

“Me? Cult leader.” said absolutely straight faced.

<wierd look>

Shoulder shrug “Hell, it’s like anything else. Can’t find good help these days.” then I grin and don’t ask back nor answer :slight_smile:

Then I think…there is a materialistic job biggot LOL

The thing is, i have the qualifications, probably even more qualifications than they do. The only reason they get the job is because my friend’s mom has connections.

And the only reason i want more money is because i NEED it. My mom can’t even pay the rent right now, even if i did give her my pay check. Both of my friend’s who have the better job don’t even need it. They have no money woes.

The thing is, i find that it is hard for money to corrupt me. I’ll never be a republican, and i’ll never give people crappy salaries if they work under me. I doubt anyone will very work under me. And also, i don’t plan on starting a family. And because i’m smart, my plan will follow through.

::cluck cluck cluck:: Oh my dear, dear, boy. You really don’t have any idea what kind of people visit and post on this message board, do you? (Sigh.) You will learn, you will learn.

And, I have to say, I am glad you informed us that you were smart. Because we sure never would have known, judging from what you’ve written here.